Throwing darts at the King

Jesus lives in the attic.
I throw darts at him every day.
Please, Lord, don’t let it rain.
A small dart chucked at the ceiling.

He clings to the roof of the car.
I know he’s there on the other side.
A car park please, not too far away.
Another small dart.

Who’s that hanging
in the sky?
My Heavenly Dartboard,
who died for our requests.

The sun shatters against the horizon.
Clouds descend like vultures onto scraps of light.
Who to thank for this violent beauty?
Our Dartboard, who art in heaven.

We sing songs to the Dartboard.
We thank him that we can have a good time and laugh
when we’ve caught ourselves out for joking.
Meanwhile Jesus hides under the seats, giggling with the kids.

We throw around hallelujahs.
They bounce across the room like ping-pong balls,
popping between the (hallelujah) words (amen).
And so we pray:

Our generic god, who just really art in heaven
familiar is your name, lord
(lord father god lord
jesus father god) give us
everything we want
and forgive us our pleasures
as we pursue them anyway
for ours is the middle class
the convenience
and the lifestyle
forever and ever
by birthright or hire purchase.


First published in NZ Baptist

Lines composed for a neighbour after midnight

In what ego-centric universe
do you think the whole street
is happy to listen to your crap
compilation albums
all night long or, in fact, at all?

In which blind fantasy do you suppose
your neighbours to be muttering
cheerily into their pillows
good on them
tomorrow is a holiday?

With whose value system do you judge
your right to saturate the cul-de-sac
with noisy beer
against our right to sleep
or hold a conversation in our own house

Certainly, it is Easter and you can sleep in
which is why Christ rose from the grave
so you and your Lion Red friends
can party party.

Park your cars all over the footpath.
Yell fat fuckens across the night
through walls
of other people’s homes
and into children’s bedrooms.

A bloody good night, I heard from the street.
A bloody good night.
I fell asleep resolving to mow the lawns
tomorrow at the arse crack of dawn

right after trumpet practice.


First published in Bravado.

Practical advice for any climate

On a grey day she will carry a cloud
into the office and park it at her desk
where it can mind its own business.
Do not offer her an umbrella. She will get her own.

In stormy weather the wind will crack its head
against her resolve.
Take note of her position.
It is the best place to stand in a gale.

In questionable weather be sure
to ask for her direction.
Her point of view will cut the fog
into quivering halves.

On a sunny day she will poke holes in the sky
with a pen for something to do.
The light will land at peculiar angles.
Then she will laugh and the colours will dance
and you will probably want to borrow her pen
but by then there is very little point,
just put on your shades and tap along.


First published in Bravado


The piano tuner walked in like a vet to a sick horse

He opened the ribs of our silent upright.
Pressed a brown and curdled finger down.
A dissonant spirit pinged up through the frame.

He frowned and slowly twisted a nerve.
Notes yawned, stretched into line
one by one over criss-crossed wires.

Wooden noses pecked at his command.
Physician, technician, working at the heart
of my favourite machine.


First published in Poetry NZ

Opus 27, no. 2


Summer mornings are for Mozart:
droplets of sun on the beaks
of sparrows.

The simple elegance of his melody
laced up with frill upon frill.
You think that’s easy? Try this!

Twisting my fingers around
the next variation
I hear him giggle.


Beethoven is warm in a winter room,
a brooding fire,
black-eyed clouds at the window.

Rock music, a friend once said.
Stroppy rhythm, wind against the wall.
Slamming the off-beat.

Music spills across the keys.
Dark swells of notes.
Oceans breaking over the page.


Evening, deep in a nocturne
watercolour wash
sustain pedal down.

Semi-quavers curled around strings
the damp felt touch
of pale light

following Chopin
through the heart
of the piano.


First published in Poetry NZ

King of the hill

Mauao soaks his fat bum in the sea.
The water is cool, the weather warm
this millennium. Shame about that
rash he’s developed just now: tiny
mites messing up his extremities,
a hundred thousand itchy critters
living and dying faster than he
can think. But this is my turf! he yells
across the harbour. I was here first!
Know that I am Mauao, the Ancient!
That settled, he folds his arms and glares
defiantly over his domain.
Silent, the earth and ocean chuckle.


First published in The Kiwi Diary 2007

Mauao is the Maori name for the Mount: the mountain that sits at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour. I wrote this poem in 2003 or 2004, around the time Tauranga City celebrated reaching 100,000 citizens and becoming a ‘real city’.

Not that anyone else would notice, but I was also rather proud of the structure of this poem; there are 9 syllables in each line.